Analgesic potency of mu and kappa opioids after systemic administration in amphibians

C. W. Stevens, A. J. Klopp, J. A. Facello

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The relative analgesic potency of 11 opioid agents was assessed by using the acetic acid test in amphibians. Systemic administration of the mu agonists, fentanyl, levorphanol, methadone, morphine, meperidine and codeine; the partial mu agonist, buprenorphine; and the kappa agonists nalorphine, bremazocine, U50488 and CI-977 was made by s.c. injection into the dorsal lymph sac of the Northern grass frog, Rana pipiens. All agents produced a dose-dependent and long-lasting analgesia which persisted for at least 4 hr. The analgesic effects of single doses of each agent were significantly blocked or reduced by pretreatment with naltrexone. Systemic opioids produced log dose-response curves which yielded ED50 values ranging from 1.4 nmol/g for fentanyl to 320.9 nmol/g for nalorphine. Comparison of ED50 values gave a rank order of analgesic potency = fentanyl > CI-977 > levorphanol > U50488 > methadone > bremazocine > morphine > buprenorphine > meperidine > codeine > nalorphine. The relative analgesic potency of mu opioids in amphibians was significantly correlated with relative analgesic potency of these same agents obtained on the mouse writhing and hot plate tests. These data suggest that the amphibian model may serve as an adjunct or alternative model for the testing of opioid agents. Furthermore, given the inactivity of kappa opioids on rodent hot plate and tail-flick tests, the acetic acid test in amphibians may be especially well-suited for the assessment of opioid analgesia after administration of kappa-selective opioids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1086-1093
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1994


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